German FM Discusses Regional Issues with Saudis, Presses for Reforms

  • "You have provided information once more on modernization in your country, and we expressly acknowledge these steps," Maas said.
  • "We are agreed that an Iranian atomic bomb must be stopped," Maas said.
  • Germany has stuck to its decision to no longer sell arms to the Saudis, who stated they would buy weapons elsewhere.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud met in Berlin Friday. Maas said that Germany and Saudi Arabia agreed to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear bomb. At a joint press conference with Prince Faisal, Maas said that talks between the two sides centered on conflicts in the region, including Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and Iran’s violation of the nuclear agreement.

Heiko Maas is a German politician who serves as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the fourth cabinet of Angela Merkel since March 14, 2018. He served as the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection from December 17, 2013 to March 14, 2018.

“You have provided information once more on modernization in your country, and we expressly acknowledge these steps,” Maas said. “They are linked with economic developments, but also— and this is very important— with social and societal developments,” he added.

Maas said Germany and Saudi Arabia should deepen their dialogue and coordination, saying, “we are agreed that an Iranian atomic bomb must be stopped,” Maas said. “Saudi Arabia can make a major and decisive contribution to the de-escalation of all the crises that we have discussed,” he added.

Regarding the war in Yemen, after a recent violent confrontation, the German foreign minister urged Riyadh to stop the military escalation, pointing out the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen. Maas said that resuming direct dialogue with Houthi rebels is a step in the right direction, but it also needs to return to UN-led political dialogue.

Call for More Reforms in Saudi Arabia

The German Foreign Minister urged Saudi Arabia to carry out more social and economic reforms. “At the same time, we believe that if this path is accompanied by developments in the field of social participation and human rights, it will be successful in the first place. We encourage the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to do the same and provide support,” said the website of the German Foreign Ministry.

Regarding Germany’s cessation of arms exports to Saudi Arabia, Maas said the cessation also applies to all parties to the Yemen War. On the other hand, Prince Faisal emphasized that his government has security responsibilities for state and weapons management and said, “we will buy weapons wherever possible.”

The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, journalist for The Washington Post and former general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel, occurred on 2 October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and was perpetrated by agents of the Saudi Arabian government.

“As I explained to my German counterpart, we are greatly concerned about Turkey sending Syrian fighters to northern Libya because this contributes to the continuing instability in that country and fuels the conflict.” He added, “we will continue to support all efforts that seek a peaceful solution . . . to end that suffering.”

In a previous interview with reporters, Prince Faisal called for the lifting of the ban on German arms exports to Saudi Arabia. It is worth noting that the parties of the ruling German coalition, consisting of Chancellor Angela Merkel, her Christian Democratic Union, her Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and the Social Democratic Party, ceased to participate directly in the Yemen war coalition treaty in March 2018.

However, the agreement leaves many backdoors through which weapons can be supplied to these countries. It wasn’t until about six months ago that the German government made a decision to completely stop exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia (including a licensed deal), and Saudi journalists were detained at their consulate in Istanbul due to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

The government twice extended the moratorium until March 31. This means that the German government will have to make new decisions on extensions or cancellations within the next six weeks.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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